Writing the screenplay for his new film was a tough experience for Atom Egoyan.
The Captive, starring Ryan Reynolds, is a fictional story about child abduction in the Niagara region but it has roots in reality.
Missing child posters in Egoyan’s hometown of Victoria, British Columbia haunted his dreams, giving him a heightened awareness of “this person who created this huge hole in another group of people’s lives.”
Those images, coupled with news of a pedophile ring in Cornwall, Ontario, inspired the hard-hitting story of a the mysterious disappearance of Cass (Alexia Fast), taken from the backseat of her father’s (Ryan Reynolds) truck as he picked up food at a diner. Held hostage by a pedophile (Kevin Durand), the girl is locked in a hidden apartment where she plays piano and watches streaming video of her mother (Mireille Enos) at work as a hotel maid.
“When the results of [the Cornwall case investigation] were announced I just found it so troubling,” he says. “I started writing this script in 2009 and put it aside for a while because it just felt too dark and then I began to think about it as three couples: A couple who are trying to understand what happened to their daughter. One couple who we aren’t sure should be together; the detectives (Scott Speedman and Rosario Dawson) who form a relationship over the course of the case. And then this other couple who you know should not be together, the pedophile who steals a child and holds her captive for eight years.
“When I began to see these three couples and examine the relationships it began to find a form.”
The next hurdle was finding a star. The Oscar nominated director, known for highbrow films like The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica found his leading man Reynolds at the movies.
“If I was to be honest,” he says, “I’d say the reason I was inspired to work with him was Safe House. There were elements in that film that were exciting to me.”
Reynolds says he’s always wanted to work with Egoyan, saying, “growing up as a Canadian kid who loved movies, you’ve got to understand that Atom Egoyan was a kind of Holy Grail to me.”
“That’s very sweet,” Egoyan says. “God, I’m not that much older than him. But I guess I am. I don’t think he saw Next of Kin and Family Viewing or Speaking Parts. He must be talking about starting with Exotica. I found that touching but I found his commitment and his desire to be in the film is what really brought the while film together.”